The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.
Life is not an easy matter. You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.
Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser, and subtler; his body will become more harmonious, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above these heights, new peaks will rise.
In inner-party politics, these methods lead, as we shall yet see, to this: the party organization substitutes itself for the party, the central committee substitutes itself for the organization, and, finally, a “dictator” substitutes himself for the central committee.
There is a limit to the application of democratic methods. You can inquire of all the passengers as to what type of car they like to ride in, but it is impossible to question them as to whether to apply the brakes when the train is at full speed and accident threatens.
In a serious struggle there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous at an inopportune time.
The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces — in nature, in society, in man himself.
Where force is necessary, there it must be applied boldly, decisively and completely. But one must know the limitations of force; one must know when to blend force with a maneuver, a blow with an agreement.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Wilhelm Reich Austrian Psychoanalyst
- Eric Hobsbawm British Historian
- Karl Marx German Philosopher, Economist
- Vladimir Lenin Russian Revolutionary Leader
- Rosa Luxemburg German Socialist, Revolutionary
- Joseph Stalin Soviet Leader
- Guy Debord French Philosopher
- Cesare Pavese Italian Novelist, Poet
- Arthur Koestler British Writer, Journalist
- Emma Goldman American Anarchist